Featured tutorials – Introducing Sheepdog Trials

Trials competitor at the pen with sheep and dog

What to expect, and how to prepare yourself and your dog for your first sheepdog trial

A two-part introduction to sheepdog trials. The better prepared you are for your first sheepdog trial, the less nerve-wracking it will be. You should know what to expect, and understand what will be expected of you. It seems unbelievable now, but when I entered my first trial it wasn’t until I stood at the post that I realised the sheep were now MY responsibility.

Whatever happened, whatever hash my dog and I made of our run, those sheep weren’t going anywhere if we didn’t take them. It was a sobering thought, and I wished I’d thought it sooner!

Sheepdog trials demand control and precision, but they are founded in the practical everyday work of the shepherd. Trials can be a hugely enjoyable, if sometimes frustrating, opportunity to see how your dog, and your handling, measure up.

But whether your interest is as competitor or spectator, our Introduction to Sheepdog Trials will show you how a sheepdog trial works.

Introduction to sheepdog trials – Part One

Close up of a sheepdog bringing a group of sheep towards the camera
As well as learning from the tutorial, you’ll see some great sheepdog trial footage!

Part One covers what to do when you arrive at the field, studying the course, what a typical course looks like, and how to plan your run to your dog’s advantage. We tell you how points are lost, and what the judge is looking for in a good run.

There’s lots of great sheepdog footage to illustrate the Outrun, Lift and Fetch, with further explanations using clear animations.

Introduction to sheepdog trials – Part Two

Photo of a trials competitor and his dog attempting to get sheep into a small pen at a sheepdog trial
Gently does it! Dick Roper and his dog coaxing the sheep into a pen at Mathon Sheep Dog Trials near Malvern UK

Part Two takes you beyond the Fetch, through the Cross-drive, to the Pen. It will also help you understand how a sheepdog trial is run and how to prepare your dog for your first trial.

If any terms are unfamiliar to you, visit our Terminology page.

At my first trial I learned to take responsibility for the sheep, and to take responsibility for my dog’s training and be more realistic about our progress. I also learned about The Long Walk! If you find yourself walking all the way up the field to the letting-out pen to collect your dog and, hopefully together, drive the sheep to the exhaust pen with what feels like the eyes of the world upon you, you won’t be the first. And you definitely won’t be the last – it’s happened to every competitor at some point in their careers.

If it’s any comfort, no one will be watching you anyway – especially if there’s a half-decent tea tent. Well, no one except your trainer, your partner, your parents, your children, and anyone who knows you.

We’re sure that An Introduction to Sheepdog Trials will interest and entertain spectators, as well as encourage potential competitors. Remember, to watch the tutorials you must log in as a paid member. If you need more help, leave a comment or question on the tutorial page.


With nearly FOURTEEN HOURS of our SHEEPDOG TRAINING TUTORIALS now available as FOUR double DVD sets, you can SAVE up to 20% if you buy all four, together with our original “First Steps in Border Collie Sheepdog Training” DVD set. More details. OR BETTER-STILL – watch ONLINE!


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